Blog | neighbourly

Lidl and M&S on how Neighbourly is helping them tackle food waste

Lidl UK recently signed up as the second major retail partner for Neighbourly, joining Marks & Spencer (M&S) which is nearly two years into its partnership with the social venture. The Drum catches up with them about how it's going and why this isn't about marketing.

Read the full Drum article here.


Content Manager

Mar 9, 2017

Unlocking potential: Priorities for the UK to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals


I’ll start with a confession. When a colleague asked me after a meeting of the High-Level Panel on what was then called the ‘Post-2015 Development Framework’ what I thought the chances were of achieving a coherent, actionable set of goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, I said “it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas Tree – everyone wants to hang their issues on it, without thinking what it will look like when it’s done”. 


Not for the first time, I was wrong. By the General Assembly in 2015, the seemingly impossible had been achieved: UN member states speaking with one voice saying “On behalf of the peoples we serve, we have adopted a historic decision on a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Goals and targets”. And it was done with the views of many millions of people directly, and many more through their representatives, at its core.


At today’s UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development we came back to that central principle: the need to engage people in the delivery of the Goals. As Emily Auckland, the UKSSD Network Director put it, following a presentation by a person telling us the real meaning of the Goals for one person’s life, the SDGs are a lofty framework, about people, and about inclusion. 


At the start of 2017, sadly, we know that we are up against harder challenges than we foresaw before the Goals were adopted, with recent events showing us all that our communities are more divided and people more disenfranchised by global agendas than we thought. As John Elkington of Volans illustrated, we are in a U bend - dropping towards the bottom - and we can expect it to take at least 8-10 years to come out of it, but this is nonetheless an opportunity to drive change.


It became clear as the conference went on that much, much more needs to be done. There are many efforts and initiatives to congratulate, but these are only adding up to an incremental approach to system malfunction.


So how do we take on this challenge? Here are three suggestions I heard:


The sheer breadth of the SDGs and their language makes them hard to digest. We need to use human language, with clear specific benefits that speak to the real-world problems people are facing. Simpler actions are needed, simpler objectives set. As Jane Davidson, Director of the Wales Institute for Sustainability pointed out, devolution is an opportunity. Equally, for change driven by local authorities, who are struggling for budgets and needing to show impact, a more local voice can show how local business and individuals can be part of the change. 


We need a lot more action from a lot more organisations - collaborative action. And we need take this on expecting and embracing the struggle, friction and energy that comes with creating solutions to tough problems. Our very own Nick Davies from Neighbourly put it this way: we need to take the learning from good initiatives to scale and make the change exponential. Social platforms like Neighbourly can be a part of helping us deliver exponential growth. 


And we need you. There was an excellent suggestion from the audience in the final session that if we want personal ownership, we need to do it too, with a personal, family audit of how we live that not only helps us make a difference, but also helps us set out clearer understanding how an individual can be a part of the solution. As another audience member put it, thought leads to action, action to habit, and habit to destiny – and the SDGs are a matter of our shared destiny.


This time next year at the third UKSSD conference I hope we can see how these formative ideas are transforming lives and communities. We now know that we are planning for an uncertain future and the Sustainable Development Goals, and the people-centred, inclusive, approach they offer can help us build out our action plan to respond to this. It’s our responsibility to make this not just a mapping of what we are already doing, but a springboard for a sustainable future. 

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Charities: get your project started here

Businesses: email us about memberships on hello@neighbourly.com

Supporters & volunteers: sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Mar 1, 2017

Lidl partners with Neighbourly on national roll-out to redistribute up to 2 million meals a year


I’m delighted to reveal that Lidl UK has announced the launch of their national food redistribution programme and support of #FundAFridge in partnership with Neighbourly. This will see all Lidl stores across England, Scotland and Wales donating food surplus to local food charities helping to feed people in need, equalling up to 2 million meals a year.

This national rollout follows a highly successful eight-week pilot that helped to feed more than 3,400 people across community centres, elderly day care centres, housing support projects and children’s centres in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Our food team will be linking each Lidl store, region by region, with partner charities that will be able to collect edible food surplus directly from the stores each day. The first 100 stores will be fully active by the end of April 2017, with remaining stores joining the programme throughout the year and into early 2018.

Alongside this commitment Lidl is the first retailer to sign up to our #FundAFridge campaign, donating over 100 fridges and freezers to projects that struggle with storage for the food donations that they receive. This will help improve their ability to safely store donated food, increase their capacity to sustainably manage more surplus and in turn, provide more meals for those who need them.

For us though, the most exciting part of this partnership is not just about Lidl’s adoption of a model aiming to change how the supermarket industry deals with the redistribution of surplus, but a step towards a more holistic solution for community partners – which is long overdue. As well as matching Lidl with local food projects, and campaigns like #FundAFridge, Neighbourly will be working to attract volunteers to help redistribute food surplus on a daily basis, reducing transportation costs for the projects taking part.

Our thanks go to the Lidl head office and project team that worked on the pilot and have helped to get this programme off the ground. Have a watch of this video from the Scunthorpe pilot to find out more about the impact the scheme is having on local communities.

Email lidl@neighbourly.com to register your food project.

Sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here.

If you'd like to donate surplus food please get in touch at hello@neighbourly.com

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Nick Davies


Jan 24, 2017

Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development


In an open letter to the Prime Minister published today, more than 80 leading companies, including Neighbourly, have united in a call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals* (SDGs).

Ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting taking place on 17-20 January, businesses say they are ready to work with the Government to help deliver the SDGs in the UK as well as internationally, but that the Government must create a framework to help businesses play their part.

The letter, co-ordinated by UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD), is being published on the day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission publishes its own flagship report on the business case for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and quantifying the value of private sector opportunities aligned with the SDGs.

At Neighbourly we absolutely know that today's great companies don't just want to contribute - they're ready to collaborate and build a powerful coalition for change but need the support of government and citizens to help unlock society's true potential. So it's wonderful to see such an emphatic demonstration of a desire to work in partnership using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for success.

I believe the UK Government should seize this opportunity to work with business to help shape an inclusive community action plan that works for all. We look forward to working with this inspiring network of businesses, NGOs and academics to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK. Read more about the steering group here.

Nick Davies


Jan 16, 2017

Algae, Blockchain and Communities: what you need to know about how tech is radically changing our relationship with food


Speaking alongside many leading voices transforming the world of food, Nick and I took the Neighbourly message to London Food Tech Week.  If you ever doubted that how we shop, eat, make and throw away food could benefit from the application of ground-breaking new tech, this event had to be seen to be believed. 

What was abundantly clear is that technology has endless potential to disrupt the way we produce, harvest, consume and recycle humanity’s most precious resource. But this isn’t just a nice to have – to cope with the increase in the world’s, population we’re going to need to more than double global food production by 2050, we use a landmass the size of China every year to grow food that we throw away, and while obesity relate diseases accelerate hunger persists.

Let me give you some fascinating examples of the solutions we saw. 

Many readers will understand the huge environmental impact of many of today’s protein sources. Microalgae certainly doesn’t sound that appetising, but that’s before the intervention of food technologists like Algama. They’re on a mission to integrate high-protein algae such as Spirulina and Chlorella into the food system to ensure future food security for all.

Do we really know where our food comes from? Block chain - a ‘distributed database’ technology can provide the un-tamperable continuous record from source, making fraud or contamination almost impossible – something the team at Chainvine are working on with the most treasured of tastes - wine. That Pinot’s tasting better already…

Taking on the issue food waste, Gusto creates recipes and sends you the right amount of ingredients to cook with. It's a simple solution that replaces a weekly shop, but means much less food ends up in the bin at the store or in the home.


But what about all of us, the consumers? How can technology educate and inspire is to change our behaviour, value our food and unlock society with that most sociable and caring of acts: eating together and feeding others?  

This was Neighbourly’s message, and it was incredibly inspiring to tap into the audience’s clear desire for more ways to play their part. 

We spoke about how Neighbourly Food is connecting supermarket surplus food with food charities. More than just tackle waste, we talked about how Neighbourly can support food charities with funding and volunteers. And how we can help people get involved locally, setting up and gaining support to feed people who are homeless, hungry, or perhaps just lonely and who need the warmth of company of breaking bread together. 

Food Tech Week was a huge success in only its second year with over 7,000 attendees across the 5 days. And as is often the case when we attend such thought-provoking events, we left wishing more people could hear the stories on offer.  

People like you, and I know we, should be more responsible about what we eat and how we buy, but we’re often unsure about what to believe and how to make a difference. Technology gives us a step in the right direction to tackle these pressing problems and bring us together through food.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 25, 2016

Food for London - setting the stage for a revolution in the way London eats?

#FoodForLondon Conf

Feeding London has stepped up a gear. Introduced by The Mayor of London, The Evening Standard convened a debate as part of its #FoodforLondon campaign last night, with the leading lights in the fight against food waste and redistributing surplus to reduce food poverty and bring communities together. 

Delivered to a packed auditorium at King’s College, made up of hundreds of people passionate about a better way of producing, selling and consuming food, the stage was set for a revolution in the way London eats. I, and our CEO Luke, were fortunate to be among them.

For campaigners and advocates of a more sustainable food system like WRAP’s Richard Swannell and Feedback’s Tristram Stuart it has been a lonely journey, fighting the good fight for years – even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, known to many of us for his War On Waste, described himself as a Johnny-Come-Lately. 

But a critical point for me raised in the discussion was that the issue is beyond waste. It’s about how all of us value the food we eat. As Richard pointed out, we use an area the size of China to grow the food we waste every year – that can’t be how we value our food and the people who grow and prepare it, let alone the people who will go hungry tonight.  

Major retailers and producers must reduce waste across their supply chain. This will mean radical transparency, publishing their food waste figures, in detail. There are still only two retailers who do this – including Sainsbury’s, whose CEO, Mike Coupe took some flack on the panel, but credit to him for putting his head above the parapet. We still have no data standards here that could allow us to know who is doing the most. 

Home grown solutions will be needed too, like Rubies in the Rubble, which uses food surplus to make delicious jams and chutneys. Their Founder Jenny spoke eloquently about how she grew up in Scotland surrounded by this more practical, seasonal, way of cooking. The speakers agreed we’ll also need digital technology like Olio, Foodcloud and Neighbourly to facilitate and measure what’s happening with surplus.

And we need more ways of bringing together those who prepare the food we eat, like Henry Dimbleby from Leon who has helped create London Union, which brings together Britain’s best street food providers to night markets around London.

But ultimately it is about all of us - the consumers who can guide this. As Ruth Rogers from the River Café pointed out, we need a mindset change on how we choose what we eat, actively making choices for seasonal produce.

I’ve spoken to WRAP and retailers previously about labelling food - in the same way we do with nutrition statistics - about how likely the product is to go to waste. A small gesture, but it may make all of us think a little more about what we buy and what we throw away. Best before dates came up again – an issue I put together a session on with the Food Standards Agency earlier this year, with retailers, manufacturers and charities.To paraphrase Richard Swannell last night, ignore best before dates - ‘best’ is a matter of taste, the only critical date is Use By, and that means use by midnight on the date shown.

Our research with the Food Foundation showed the work of thousands of tireless community projects, like The Felix Project, who are getting food to where it is needed most, but the daily battles they face to get the support and practical tools, like fridges and transport, they need. It’s not just a matter of supply.

I am really proud of the food redistribution we’re managing at Neighbourly – this year alone more than half a million meals have been made for people who need it, from food that would have otherwise gone to waste. But I want us to do much, much, more - getting volunteers, funding and way more surplus food to the incredible charities in London and beyond. A solution needs to be simple, quick and transparent for retailers and it needs to support overall waste reduction. 

There is so much to do to bring us all together to collaborate, innovate and deliver. I want to see #FoodforLondon become Food for the UK and beyond – it’s a global problem, with an everyday solution. I hope tonight was a spur to the movement to end food waste, make sure that everyone is able to enjoy a regular nutritious meal, and support the people who produce, prepare and share food to flourish in London and beyond.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 11, 2016

You’ve got no time to waste: more than ever, the public is watching what you throw away!


Hats off to Hugh, he’s done it again, bringing the issue of avoidable waste to the attention of the public. Last night’s episode of Hugh’s War on Waste kept up the pressure, taking on paper coffee cups and packaging, while reporting back on efforts to tackle food waste.

On Wednesday I spent the day with retailers, manufacturers and government policy makers at the WRAP Surplus Food Working Group. There were great examples of progress in tackling back of store and distribution centre food surplus, as well as household waste. The good news is that we’re reducing and redistributing more edible food than ever.

But there is far to go. There is a still a hideous amount of food wasted in the UK grocery supply chain.  WRAP, the waste reduction body, estimate there is an opportunity to increase redistribution four-fold. That’s the equivalent of at least 360 additional million meals. 

So why isn’t this happening? A consensus is forming on the barriers: legal and compliance risk, lack of capacity to operate redistribution schemes, low public awareness of the positive work being done and financial barriers. 

At Neighbourly we are running a nimble food surplus redistribution scheme that utilises the Neighbourly site to connect 100s of stores belonging to major retailers with many small, local charities that go on to use the food to feed people in need, typically as part of other charitable programmes, including drug rehabilitation and youth centres. In a few short months we’re redistributed hundreds of tonnes to people in need.

 We’re actively working with retailers to take on operational challenges. Our time and motion study brought the process to donate food through Neighbourly under 1 minute and, we’re proving, cheaper than forms of waste disposal.  We’ve worked with the Food Standards Agency to bring industry, charities and policy makers together in a recent seminar to look at how to improve regulation and our stories of how retailers are making a difference are being seen by millions:

This autumn major trade publications and newspapers are launching campaigns on the issue of food waste. That means customers and employees will be making choices on where and how they shop and work. The Sustainable Development Goals have created an accountability framework for action.  We’ve aligned our project categories to the SDGs and can now report against these through our platform. 

 Public attention on this issue isn’t going away. At Neighbourly we’re here to help connect companies and charities, helping give good food to good causes, and we’re ready to do more.

Steve HainesHead of Community Engagement

Jul 29, 2016

We've announced new reporting features to support Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations SDG Business Forum in New York


Today we have added new features to our site, which will allow charities and causes to align their projects with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations. As a result of this, businesses and corporations which contribute resources, time or funds through Neighbourly.com can automatically report on the impact of their activities in support of the SDGs.

The SDGs - or global goals - are 17 commitments outlined by the United Nations, aimed at targeting an array of global issues in the sustainability agenda, including ending poverty and hunger, providing clean and sanitary water, making cities sustainable and promoting responsible consumption and production.

Our new website functionality allows for charities to choose from a list of SDGs and are then displayed on their profile. Businesses looking to support certain global goals will then be able to use the site’s search function to find charities or causes aligned with particular SDGs. Once they have contributed, the reporting features of the site will provide a consolidated analysis of their investment and its impact aligned to the relevant global goals.

Nick Davies, founder of Neighbourly, is today addressing the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. Speaking in a session entitled: Business Agenda for 2030, Davies will be explaining:

  • How Neighbourly has provided a platform for collaboration between causes in need and businesses which want to help.

  • The factors that determine successful partnerships between public and private sector.

  • The results that have been achieved by Neighbourly and its private sector partners.

nickNick has said that, "Business wants to help. We know this from our own experiences and the evidence of big brands wanting to make a difference is all over Neighbourly". Everyone at Neighbourly, not to mention Nick believes that, "the private sector also needs assistance to make connections to relevant causes in the local communities they want to reach. Neighbourly is all about making that task quicker and simpler. By providing reporting for accountability purposes, whether for the global goals or other corporate social responsibility measures, we help businesses to make their contribution.”

For more information on the UN SDG Business Forum:

SDG Business Forum website: http://www.sdgbusinessforum.com

USCIB’s Business for 2030 website: http://www.businessfor2030.org | tiny url: http://bit.ly/1NknTeD

UN’s High Level Political Forum website: http://bit.ly/1BSEj9K




Jul 19, 2016

Say hello to our new project categories


We're excited to introduce our 17 new project categories! These categories match the new Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals) - a set of 17 aims, created by the United Nations to provide a focus for addressing the most pressing issues affecting our communities and our planet.

We're now using these goals to categorise the types of projects we have on neighbourly, and the outcomes they focus on. As projects are successful in receiving support through the platform, we'll be able to report on how local actions are all adding up to contribute to global change and how our thousands of small charities and community projects are at the forefront of achieving these goals.

So... end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, fix climate change - it might seem impossible for an average person to make an impact, right? Wrong. The Global Goals are indeed important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organisations and world leaders. But change starts with every one of us. Every action on neighbourly.com now contributes to those goals - from just the click of a social share button to making a small donation of your time or money to support a local project that matters to you.

Outside of neighbourly, the UN have created a list of super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do them, will make a big difference. From your couch, your home or your neighbourhood, here are just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact with the UN's Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World!

If you have an existing project on neighbourly, we've already given it a new category, which you can see and change easily on your project page.

Read more about the 17 Global Goals and their descriptions here.

– Jane | Content Manager

Jul 13, 2016

Tech4Good Awards: thank you for making us a 2016 winner!


To say we're honoured is an understatement, and before this post goes any further a thank you is in order. Winning this award is something we never expected, there are so many amazing people doing amazing things in tech and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the finalists for this award. Each and every company on the Tech4GoodAwards list deserve the winning spot, so to be given the privilege of 1st place in the BT MyDonate category has blown our socks off!

t4gThe Tech4Good Awards are in their 6th year and were set up by AbilityNet with the help of BT, a number of businesses, charities and non-profit partners and sponsors. The aim of the awards has always been to shine the light on companies using technology to better the world and to celebrate each advance.

At Neighbourly, we're firm believers of working together to bring about positive change in the world so to be put alongside so many great companies with great causes gives us a really strong sense of family.

Thank you again for this award. And to all the other finalists and participants, thank you for believing in changing the world together.


- Matt Aldus | Social Content Manager

Jul 6, 2016